Wednesday, May 22, 2024

McIlroy willing to return to board “but only if people want me involved” – News – Irish Golf Desk

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Rory McIlroy wants to return to the PGA Tour policy board to help speed up an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and reunify the game.

Speaking ahead of his debut in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where he teams up with Shane Lowry, the world number two said he believed he had the “connections” that might help the sides come to an agreement.

As for reports that he is set to receive as much as $50 million in equity for staying loyal to the PGA Tour, with Tiger Woods possibly getting $100m for not joining LIV Golf, and whether those numbers would make them feel “validated”, McIlroy said: “I think the one thing we’ve learned in golf over the last two years is there’s never enough.”

Shocked by last June’s merger announcement, McIlroy resigned from the board last November, saying he wanted to focus on his golf.

However, as talks between the PGA Tour and PIF have remained at a standstill following the Strategic Sports Group’s multi-billion dollar investment, he’s willing to step in for Webb Simpson and help break the stalemate.

“I don’t think there’s been much progress made in the last eight months, but I was hopeful that there would be,” said McIlroy, who has had differences of opinion with board members such as Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott. “I think I could be helpful to the process but only if people want me involved. 

“When Webb… talked about potentially coming off the board, I said look, if it was something that other people wanted, I would gladly take that seat.

“I feel like I care a lot, and I have some pretty good experience and good connections within the game and around the wider ecosystem…

“But at the end of the day, it’s not quite up to me to just come back on the board. There’s a process that has to be followed, but I’m willing to do it if that’s what people want.”

Believing that unification is “the only way forward for the game of golf”, McIlroy said people will have to compromise.

“Compromise, but also try to articulate your points as well as you can and try to help people see the benefits of what unification could do for the game and what it could do for this tour in particular,” he said.

“We obviously realise the game is not unified right now for a reason and there’s still some hard feelings and things that need to be addressed. 

“But I think at this point, for the good of the game, we all need to put those feelings aside and all move forward together.”

As for this week’s partnership with McIlroy, the Offaly man could not have sounded more enthusiastic about being asked to play by the partner everyone wanted.

McIlroy is calling the shots, even when it comes to dining options.

“I just go where I’m told this week and I just do what I’m told,” Lowry said with a grin. “Rory is the captain, team captain.”

More seriously, he said: “Why am I excited that he picked me? He obviously thinks I’m good enough to be a teammate and come out here and compete with.“

On the LPGA Tour, Nelly Korda’s decision to withdraw from this week’s JM Eagle LA Championship to rest following her fifth win in a row in the Chevron Championship comes as a relief to the field at Wilshire Country Club, where Stephanie Meadow is Irish golf’s lone hope.

Lauren Walsh and Olivia Mehaffey play the LET’s €320,000 Investec South African Women’s Open at Erinvale while on the DP World Tour, Tom McKibbin tees it up in Japan the ISPS Handa – Championship at Taiheiyo Club Gotemba.

On the Challenge Tour, Conor Purcell will be looking to build on his tie for fourth in the Abu Dhabi Challenge and continue his bid for one of 20 DP World Tour cards in the UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

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